By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
Five candidates have filed for the special election to fill a vacant District 9 House seat for Grafton County, with two others waiting in the wings.
By the end of the filing period on Friday, the Secretary of State’s Office had recorded four Republicans and one Democrat hoping to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Jeff Shackett (R-Bridgewater), 30 days after he was sworn in for a new term.
Former state representatives Paul Simard and Burton Williams, both Bristol Republicans, have filed, along with Timothy Sweetsir of Ashland and Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater.
Tom Ploszaj of Grafton has filed as a Democrat in the race.
Another Democrat, Joshua Adjutant of Bristol, was unable to enter during the filing period because he was not a registered voter. He plans to run as a write-in candidate after the supervisors of the checklist have added him to the Bristol roster.
Another Bristol candidate, Andrew Hemingway, plans to run as an independent during the general election. Independents cannot run in the primary election.
Simard, who describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate, served as state legislator in 1972-73 and in 2011-12.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said, “so when I saw there was an opening that needed representation, I’ve got a lot of experience, and to send a freshman down there at this point in the term would be useless. They would just find where the cafeteria and rest rooms were, and it would be over.”
Simard said the burning question during his first term was whether abortion should be legal in New Hampshire, and he voted twice to make it legal. In 2011-12, while serving on the House Finance Committee, “we met seven days a week for three months, and put a lot of work into helping Health and Human Services, and trimmed expenses by looking for results. We were the only state in the nation that actually reduced expenditures, and I’m very proud of that.”
Simard also served on the 361 Commission that studied the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission proposal and recommended burying the lines along the entire corridor. He sat on the committee of conference for medical marijuana, and worked out an agreement for the state to cover payments to the towns when Massachusetts defaulted on its obligations under the Merrimack River flood control agreement.
Today, Simard has his eye on Steve Vaillancourt’s open seat on the Finance Committee. “It’s still open, and probably the most important committee in the House,” Simard said. “I think I could do some good with the one year that’s left.”
Williams served 10 years in the House after having served as a Bristol selectman for 19 years and for 21 years as a water and sewer commissioner.
Williams said he ran for Shackett’s seat to see that District 9 had representation in Concord — something that was lacking due to Shackett’s business interests.
“I know my way around down there, and I know the people,” he said.
“The whole trouble with both parties is they’ve got to get together and pull together. There’s too much separation down there,” Williams said.
Williams said that, although he’s a Republican, he has voted with the Democrats when they had a better plan. “There’s got to be parties, no question about that,” he said, “but they’ve got to get together. Right now, we need somebody to step in and take over without dubbing around too much. I’d fit in pretty well.”
Sweetsir is running as an outsider, saying people are tired of politics and politicians. Although he is a Republican, Sweetsir said, “I don’t care what political party anyone is in. What I do care about is people and what ‘we the people’ stands for. Most people that run for office have their own agenda; I do not.”
Sweetsir said he learned in his unsuccessful run for Ashland police chief against Tony Randall that the popular candidate wins. “I started getting involved in town politics,” he said, “and I’m part of the zoning board of adjustment now.”
He said he wants to hear what his constituents’ priorities are and to represent them in Concord.
“We’re supposed to be the servants of the people,” he said. “I’m not made of money, I don’t live in a big, fancy house. I live paycheck to paycheck just like everybody else. I care about the people in the five towns of this district, and will listen to them... It can’t be so much what I believe in. What matters is what do they want.”
With a 13-year law enforcement career in Stonington, Maine, and Northwood, New Hampshire, as well as at the maximum security prison in Concord, Sweetsir supports laws that protect both police and victims. “I want it to be more of a common-sense thing,” he said. “Everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but if someone pulls a gun and gets shot, why are you suing the police officer?”
Sweetsir also worked for nine years at Freudenberg-NOK’s plants in Bristol and Ashland. He supports economic development that reduces taxes, but also wants to hear from the neighbors affected by development.
“On the zoning board, you have to look at every situation,” he said. “Do I think there should be a Home Depot or Shaw’s in Plymouth? Of course. When you don’t have competition, it allows them to monopolize the area. I support growth with common sense.”
Migliore is campaigning as the candidate who can serve full-time, bringing 14 years of experience as a business owner and 10 years of service on the Newfound Area School Board to the job.
He cited his experience as school board chairman when, after a 2012 change in state law, the Newfound District found its tax cap prevented it from funding the next year’s budget. He said he worked with the state Department of Revenue Administration, then-Sen. Jeanie Forrester, and representatives Susan Smith and Harold “Skip” Riley to overcome the technicalities in the law that blocked funding the budget.
Having recently sold his business, Migliore said he can devote full time to the work in Concord.
“This is not something one should take lightly,” he said of the House position, going on to say it “should only be done after developing some wisdom which comes from doing this sort of thing in one capacity or another prior to declaring one’s candidacy. On-the-job training is not a good idea.”
As a member of the Bristol Economic Development Committee, Migliore worked to forge a partnership between Freudenberg-NOK and the Newfound schools to offer extended learning opportunities that expose students to new areas of potential employment upon graduation from high school.
As the lone Democrat on the ballot, Ploszaj said he entered the race so District 9 would have a vote “that represents the district and not the historical party line voting.”
“Though I agree that the district would be better-served having two representatives, I do not agree that a special election, with the added expense, was necessary,” he said.
A registered Democrat since 1972, Ploszaj ran for the Legislature in 2012 and said his campaign this year seeks “to elect the person who will best serve the ideas and views of the voters and our district, not a political party.”
“All too many times, a candidate wins because of trending politics, popularity/name recognition or they ran the race by the book using rhetoric, emotional and scare tactics,” he states on his website, www.tomploszaj.com. “I am the candidate who would give the people the chance to have their issues and concerns heard in Concord, the person who represents the constituents, not party agendas.”
The primary election for District 9, which includes the towns of Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol and Grafton, will take place Tuesday, July 18, with the general election on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
- Written by Tom Caldwell
- Category: Local News
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